It used to be that if a mobile phone customer wanted to switch service providers, they had to give up their old phone number. And if one had a particularly "good" number or had the number for several years, the inability to retain that number was a huge disincentive to switch services. But several years ago, the ability to carry one's number from carrier to carrier became a reality in the U.S., spurring greater competition among carriers. And with mobile number portability (MNP) being contemplated in India, some consumers there would consider making some changes, according to new research from The Nielsen Company.
Close to one in five (18%) of Indian mobile customers said that they would change their operator if they have the ability to retain their number. For some mobile services, this news might cause some concern: a quarter of customers of Reliance and Tata Indicom said that they would be keen to change if MNP becomes reality, while 19 percent of BSNL subscribers would do the same.
Those most likely to switch: high spenders, postpaid subscribers and business subscribers indicated a higher tendency to change carriers versus prepaid and low to medium spenders. Postpaid spenders have almost double the minutes usage of prepaid subscribers, and also have a far higher usage of data applications.
"When MNP was introduced in the U.S., price and promotions were by far the leading drivers of acquisition. Ultimately, the operator who leveraged the consumer propensity to choose based on those criteria was successful in riding the MNP wave. In India, MNP can be leveraged by operators through smart, targeted marketing and promotions to coincide with the introduction of MNP. It presents a powerful opportunity for operators to drive in-bound porting of high-value subscribers provided they have a good understanding of who is more likely to switch and why," said Shankari Panchapakesan, Executive Director, Telecom Practice at Nielsen India.
According to Nielsen's research, 39 percent of those surveyed said they selected their mobile operator based on price, while network quality was the driver of choice for 36 percent. Promotion, reputation and customer service were also identified as considerations.
Nielsen's Mobile Consumer Insights study surveyed 12,500 Indian mobile subscribers across 50 metropolitan areas.